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A guide to the PLAB test

The Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board test, known as the PLAB test, helps us to make sure doctors who qualified abroad have the right knowledge and skills to practise medicine in the UK.

Do you need to take the PLAB test?

If you graduated from a medical school outside of the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you’ll probably need to take the PLAB test. The PLAB test will check that you know and can do the same as a doctor starting the second year of their Foundation Programme training in the UK.

What does the PLAB test involve?

There are two parts to the test. Part 1 is a written multiple choice exam, with 180 single best answer questions. Part 2 is a practical objective structured clinical exam, known as an OSCE. You’ll need to pass both parts before you can apply for registration with a licence to practise medicine in the UK.

What do you need before you can take PLAB?

Before you can take the PLAB test, you’ll need to set up a GMC Online account and show us that your medical qualification and knowledge of English are acceptable. Once you’ve done that, you can book your place on part 1 of the PLAB test.

PLAB part 1

PLAB 1 is a written exam made up of 180 multiple choice questions which you must answer within three hours. Each starts with a short scenario followed by a question. You need to choose the right answer out of the five possible answers given. You can sit part 1 in a number of countries, as well as in the UK. Have a look at the available locations and dates when you log in to GMC Online.

Find out more about PLAB 1

PLAB part 2

PLAB 2 is an objective structured clinical exam. It's made up of 18 scenarios, each lasting eight minutes and aims to reflect real life settings including a mock consultation or an acute ward. Part 2 tests run throughout the year at our Clinical Assessment Centre in Manchester, England.

Find out more about PLAB 2

What happens after you’ve passed PLAB 1 and PLAB 2?

Once you’ve passed both parts, you can apply for registration with a licence to practise. Your application must be approved within two years of passing part 2 of the test. Once we approve your application and you gain registration you can work as a doctor in the UK.